Google

Chrome browser taps AI for new ‘Help me write’ tool

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Google Chrome 'Help Me Write' AI writing tool
"Help Me Write" uses AI to improve your writing online.
Image: Google

Google Chrome uses artificial intelligence in a new experimental tool that makes it easier to start writing or improve something already written online. “Help me write” can punch up the content of any text field in the browser.

It’s coming to Mac and Windows, and is just the latest AI addition to Chrome.

Whipsmart: Apple buys 32 AI startups in 2023

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artificial intelligence startups
It's another sign Cupertino is very serious about competing in artificial intelligence.
Photo: Cult of Mac

When it comes to deploying artificial intelligence in products, companies like Google might seem quicker on the draw than Apple. But no major tech company bought more AI startups than the iPhone-maker in 2023, according to a new report.

That suggests Apple might soon become a leader in generative AI rather than playing catch-up.

Google admits Chrome Incognito mode does almost nothing

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The Google Chrome logo with the caption:
Google admits Chrome's Incognito mode does almost nothing.
Image: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

The description of Chrome’s Incognito mode will soon be changed to make it clear that Google tracks people who use the web browser. It also will warn users that websites can gather data about them as well.

This means the only people blocked from knowing your browsing history when using Incognito mode are family/friends who use the same computer.

Why Google Play courtroom loss could hurt Apple, too

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iPhone owners are pickier about apps than Android users
A bad day in court for Google Play could end up being a loss for the App Store.
Image: Cult of Mac

Epic Games convinced a federal jury that the Google Play store for Android applications is an illegal monopoly. The decision might have wide repercussions.

Apple won its court battle with the game-developer over the same issue, but Google’s loss could nevertheless eventually affect the iOS App Store.

Sign in to your Google accounts before December or they’ll be deleted

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iPad showing google.com
Use your Google account before December 1 to make sure it doesn’t get deleted.
Photo: cottonbro studio/Pexels

Google plans to purge old accounts starting in December. However, you can keep your Google account active and prevent it from being deleted. You have until the first day of December to save any inactive Google accounts.

What’s being cleaned out? Any Google account that’s been inactive for two years. If you received an email about a dormant account, you know for sure that you need to take action. However, that’s not foolproof. If your dormant account doesn’t have a recovery email set up, you’d never be notified in the first place.

If you have a bunch of alternate, backup Google accounts — as many do — here’s what you need to do.

Apple admin runs clinic with formidable M2 MacBook Pro rig [Setups]

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Start with a new 16-inch M2 MacBook Pro, a CalDigit Thunderbolt 4 dock and a huge Samsung display, and go from there.
Start with a new 16-inch M2 MacBook Pro, a CalDigit Thunderbolt 4 dock and a huge Samsung display, and go from there.
Photo: moosetender@Reddit.com

Perhaps you’ve heard an expression often used in sports commentary — “so-and-so is running a clinic on this,” meaning showing anyone and everyone how it’s done.

Today’s featured computer setup comes from an Apple administrator who clearly knows how it’s done, if “it” is setting up a rock-solid and highly functional workstation.

Apple exec says Google is iPhone default search engine because it’s ‘the best’

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Eddy Cue, Apple VP of Services
Apple VP Eddy Cue got the unenviable task of defending Apple's deals with Google.
Photo: Apple

Apple made Google the default search engine for the Safari web browser on iPhone and Mac because it’s the best option, not because Google paid billions of dollars for the prime placement, according to a top Apple executive.

Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of services, made the claim Tuesday during testimony in the antitrust trial United States et al v. Google LLC. Cue also told the court that Apple’s deal with Google doesn’t violate his company’s oft-stated position on protecting user privacy.

Today in Apple history: Google comes out of beta

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Google Apple
Google and Apple were friends at first. It didn't last.
Photo: Google/Apple

September 21: Today in Apple history: Google comes out of beta September 21, 1999: A little startup called Google comes out of beta, with the launch of a website that will let the general public easily search the internet for information.

To Apple, which is embracing the internet with its twin iMac G3 and iBook products, Google seems like the perfect ally. Sadly, the relationship between the two companies won’t remain rosy for long.

Today in Apple history: Apple frenemy Google goes public

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Google Apple
Relations between Apple and Google started strong, but quickly deteriorated.
Photo: Apple/Google logos

August 19: Today in Apple history: With Google IPO, an Apple frenemy goes public August 19, 2004: Google floats its initial public offering on the stock market. Founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin turn into instant billionaires as the Google IPO cements the company’s status as a tech giant.

Relations between Google and Apple are good at the time, with Steve Jobs serving as a mentor to the company’s two young founders, and Google’s Eric Schmidt soon to join Apple’s board of directors. However, the peace won’t last long.

That’s one way to get 50% off a Studio Display [Setups]

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Can you spot the chip/crack in one of the displays?
Can you spot the chip/crack in one of the displays?
Photo: ryopang@Reddit.com

The owner of today’s MacBook Pro setup chose two Studio Displays over one Pro Display XDR to suit his workflow and because he realized he could bag one of the monitors at half price. Lucky him.

Several folks on social media noticed the damage, and some said they’d grab that deal, too, if they could.

Android’s Find My clone hits a snag, and Google blames Apple

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Androids will soon warn of AirTags used by stalkers
Google’s Find My Device system, a copy of Apple’s, won‘t arrive for months.
Photo: Google

Google thinks Apple’s Find My network is so clever it’s “borrowing” the idea. But the upcoming extension of Android’s Find My Device network to tracking tags has been delayed — and Google says it’s all because of Apple.

The snafu supposedly stems from the companies working together on a scheme to prevent stalkers from misusing tracking tags made for the two rival platforms.

California shutters its phone-based COVID-19 exposure notification system

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California shutters its phone-based COVID-19 exposure notification system
CA Notify is no more.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac

California introduced a COVID-19 exposure-notification system that used iPhone and Android to track interactions with infected people. And now that the U.S. government says the pandemic is over, CA Notify is shut down.

It’s possible Apple will eventually remove the underlying technology from iOS.

Google moves away from passwords, implements biometric passkeys instead

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Google moves away from passwords, implements biometric passkeys instead
You don't need to remember a password to sign into Google accounts.
Image: Google

In a move it calls “the beginning of the end of the password,” Google began rolling out passkeys for its accounts Wednesday. The move means that users of Apple devices can sign into these accounts using Face ID or Touch ID rather than a password.

The underlying tech already comes built into iPhone, Mac, etc.

Apple and Google join forces to fight location-tracker abuse

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After a bit of confusion, Lufthansa says it won't ban AirTags from checked baggage.
It'll soon be easier for Android users to tell if they are being tracked by an AirTag.
Photo: Daniel Romero/Unsplash License

Apple and Google jointly proposed an industry specification Tuesday to help fight the misuse of Bluetooth location-tracking devices. Their proposal would make it easier for both iPhone and Android users to detect that they are being surreptitiously followed by a tracking device.

The proposal enjoys support from other makers of location trackers, too.

YouTube Premium getting SharePlay support for watching with friends

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YouTube Bundle
Google is adding a collection of new features and enhancements for YouTube Premium.
Photo: Cult of Mac Deals

YouTube will soon get support for SharePlay, as well as videos with higher bitrates. And queuing up videos and jumping between devices will get easier, too.

The enhancements are part of Google efforts to get more subscribers for YouTube Premium.

Google Pixel-exclusive Magic Eraser comes to iPhone

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Google mocks iPhone's lack of headphone jack then drops it from Pixel 6A
Magic Eraser automagically erases unwanted people from your photos.
Photo: Google

Google is bringing one of the key Pixel-exclusive camera features, Magic Eraser, to the iPhone. The feature is now available on all smartphones as a part of Google One.

Using Magic Eraser, you can erase unwanted people and objects from your photos with a tap.

Find the highest-quality original images online with Reverse Image Search

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Find the original version
Is the best copy of a picture you have blurry and pixellated? Use Google’s image lens tool to find the original.
Image: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

You can use Google reverse image search to find a higher-resolution (and higher-quality) original version of an image online. If you’re putting together a presentation, making a YouTube video or writing a blog post, you want the highest quality versions of every image. You might feel stuck if you only have a low-quality picture and you need to fill a bigger space.

Google reverse image search will let you upload a photo and find matches all around the web. You can find out where it’s from to cite the source and save the uncompressed original image. Let me show you how Google Reverse Image Search works.

‘Budget’ MacBook Air workstation doesn’t look cheap [Setups]

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Christian Panea setup
It's a "budget" setup, but it really doesn't look it.
Photo: Christian Panea@Workspace Setups Addict

Some budget computer setups look the part — cheap, utilitarian, uninspired, incomplete — and others don’t. Today’s featured setup falls in the latter category. You look at the well-equipped workstation and the word “cheap” doesn’t occur to you.

Against a DIY desk and pegboard, the setup features an M1 MacBook Air, dual Dell displays, some nice AV gear and plenty of nice touches.

Google makes Chrome for Mac less of a RAM hog

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Websites may have issues with Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox when each one hits version 100.
Google is improving Chrome so it takes up less of Mac's system memory. And it'll go easier on batteries, too.
Photo: Google/Apple

Google tweaked the desktop version of Chrome so that background tabs take up less memory. The widely used browser will also use less power when a laptop’s battery is getting low.

The changes are coming soon to the macOS version as well as other desktop OSs.

YouTube for iPhone adds pinch to zoom, precise seeking, more

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Google's YouTube for iPhone adds pinch to zoom, precise seeking, more
Finding the exact moment in a YouTube video you're looking for is a lot easier with Precise Seek.
Screenshot: Google

Google upgraded the iOS YouTube application with a number of enhancements, including pinch to zoom in videos and a new way of showing thumbnails while rewinding will make it easier to find an exact location.

There are other changes too, and some of the enhancements are coming to the desktop version.

Google Stadia shutdown means less console action for Apple gamers

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Google Stadia for iOS is going into public beta testing soon.
RIP Google Stadia: Apple users lose an option to play console games.
Photo: Google/Cult of Mac

Google Stadia cloud gaming service is being shut down. It allowed Mac, iPad and iPhone users to play console-quality games, but its developer admits it never found an audience.

Other cloud-gaming services remain, including Microsoft’s online version of Xbox and Amazon Luna.

Why Google really, really wants Apple to add RCS to iMessage

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iMessage bullying
Google wants iPhone to adopt RCS and end the differences between blue bubbles and green bubbles.
Image: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac

Google’s campaign to talk Apple into supporting Rich Communication Services in iMessage continues. The Android-maker introduced a new website Tuesday that claims that because iPhone does not support RCS it lacks “modern texting standards” and causes unnecessary problems.

Apple has long resisted RCS, choosing instead to reserve the best benefits of its messaging software to iPhone users.

Class-action lawsuit claims Apple Pay blocks competition

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The lawsuit alleges that Apple Pay blocks the competition from tap-to-pay.
The lawsuit alleges that Apple Pay blocks the competition from tap-to-pay.
Photo: Apple

Apple violates U.S. antitrust law by making sure Apple Pay is the only e-wallet way to tap to pay via an iPhone, iPad or Apple Watch, a new class-action lawsuit filed Monday alleges.

The complaint says Apple profits illegally to the tune of $1 billion a year or more by blocking competitors like Google Pay and Samsung Pay from offering tap-to-pay transactions on Apple devices.

Bring your 2010 Mac back to life with Chrome OS Flex

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Chrome OS Flex turns 2009 MacBook into a useful computer again
Transform your old Mac into a Chromebook with Chrome OS Flex
Photo: Google

Google’s Chrome OS Flex is now ready to revive Macs that are too elderly to run the latest macOS version. That includes models as far back as 2010. It turns the Mac into a Chromebook, but at least it’s an up-to-date one.

The free OS is targeted at businesses and schools, but it might become a way for individuals to bring some new life to their obsolete Macs.